We recently had the opportunity to provide support to our local Tedx event here in Vancouver – by creating custom branded glass water bottles for the participants. They’re cool, they’re useful, and… they’re from China (as noted by @kimli on Delicious Juice Dot Com).
It’s the classic conundrum we face everyday in our business – working on sustainability within a global supply chain (more on our Code of Conduct in dealing with our supply chain at the end of the post).
Our key challenge in sourcing is facing diminishing capacity in local manufacturing. Drink-ware is especially prone to this. For example, we have yet to find a stainless steel water bottle made in North America, there are plenty of plastic bottles made here, just no stainless.
And guess what one of our top selling products is? Yup, stainless water bottles. That said, we’ve never looked for a domestic glass bottle supplier… but thanks to @kimli we will now (we’re always looking for local suppliers to help bring to market).
With drink-ware our main aim is to get folks to kick the disposable habit (a bad habit as noted in Annie Leonard’s The Story of Bottled Water). While we keep working on the supply side of things, we’re work with our clients to get folks out of single serve water.
Take Tedx Vancouver for example, last year FIJI water sponsored the event, and had their product out for grabs. From what I heard organizers got grief about it (refer back to the Story of Bottled Water if you’re still wondering why).
In making products to change behavior, cool helps – if people like the product, they use it (we thought we’d do glass because it’s unique and different, just like Tedx even though rumor has it that glass has a bigger footprint than steel).
But I do want to dispel a key myth out there regarding the enviro-impacts of shipping product around the world. A lot of people we talk to assume there must be more emissions getting product from China than getting product from say… Toronto. Being in Vancouver, a port city, allows us to receive product by ocean freight vs. product being trucked across the country. And ocean freight is about 5.5x LESS environmental impact (in terms of efficiency) than the trucks that haul our goods across Canada. Here’s that concept applied to a bottle of wine from our friends at World Changing.
In short, sourcing products is tough and getting more local is an Idea Worth Spreading for sure. Check out our pals @locobc to check out their efforts to promote all things local. Interested in the standards we use in working with our supply chain? Check our Code of Conduct out or check out the work of the Fair Labor Association.
We got great feedback on the bottles – although I’m not sure we’d recommend glass for a venue with concrete floors in the future! Thanks to @kimli for keeping us on our toes.